Min Kush


Min Kush - A Former Soviet Uranium Mining Town 

During Soviet times Min Kush was a closed town. It was so secretive that it didn't feature on any maps. This was because the uranium mined here was used to supply Russia's atomic bomb.

Highly skilled workers were recruited from all over the Soviet Union to work in the mine and later its felt tip pen factory. Salaries were double the average and workers received special benefits and food choices.

Today Min Kush is practically a ghost town. The factories have all closed and the buildings collapsed. The few people who remain survive by keeping animals which wander around the ruins.

Rows of grey 2-storey blocks of flats line the road. Some are boarded up, others are in a state of disrepair and are inhabited. The opera house and clubs are locked and Lenin has disappeared from the park which is now filled with weeds.

I spoke to a woman combing goat wool for weaving outside a small shop whose contents looked as if they hadn't changed since communism. She didn't want to give her name.

"This town was the best in Kyrgyzstan and now it's the worst."

“Because it was supported by Moscow the shops were full,” she explained. "We had everything, juice, biscuits, sweets. I used to bring food from here when visiting my children in other areas of the country.

"People were paid extra to work here so it attracted skilled employees from all over the Soviet Union. But after the factories stopped working in 2000 many people left."

She said she survived on a small pension from working in the pen factory which she supplemented by keeping cows and hens. She explained that she didn't suffer from the effects of the uranium but that some younger people had complained about ill health.

David & George